Global Politics

Ad Campaign Exposes the Irony of #FirstWorldProblems Meme

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Haitians are the spokespeople for a new ad campaign getting lots of YouTube hits this month. The video features Haitians reading tweets from the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems as they stand by the rubble of their former homes and neighborhoods. The ad campaign is from the organization Water is Life, a non-profit group that works to provide clean water for those in need. The #FirstWorldProblems hashtag began in June 2009 and has since become a popular meme for first world citizens to post their seemingly mundane complaints, such as "I want to enjoy my beer in the garden but the wifi doesn't work out there." The Water is Life campaign turned this idea on its head by featuring Haitian children and adults reading these tweets aloud. The video is intended to highlight the gap between the haves and the have-nots and has been described as one of the most innovative charity campaigns to hit YouTube. Lines such as "I hate it when my phone charger won't reach my bed," and "I hate it when my house is so big I need two wireless routers" are read out by Haitians, most of whom live on less than a dollar a day. It's one of the first campaigns that is trying to "reverse-trend" a popular hashtag. The video has been watched millions of times in just five days. We speak with Matt Eastwood, the chief creative officer for the ad agency DDB New York which produced the campaign.

  • A Haitian girl reads a tweet from the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems. (Photo: video grab)

  • A Haitian girl reads a tweet from the hashtag #FirstWorldProblems. (Photo: video grab)

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